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Seductress Extraordinaire

Terry Castle: The vampiric Mercedes de Acosta, 24 June 2004

‘That Furious Lesbian’: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta 
by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 210 pp., £16.95, June 2004, 0 8093 2579 9
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Women in Turmoil: Six Plays 
by Mercedes de Acosta, edited by Robert Schanke.
Southern Illinois, 252 pp., £26.95, June 2003, 0 8093 2509 8
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... last line would a century later ineluctably evoke the Monty Python song about the highwayman ‘Dennis Moore, galloping o’er the moor’: Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Mr Moore. None of Micaela’s odd childraising methods, which included dressing Mercedes up as a boy, telling her her ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2013, 9 January 2014

... from grave to cradle.’ 6 April. Were there a suitable forum I would put in my own word for Dennis Stevenson, currently being pilloried with his colleagues for the collapse of HBOS. In the early 1990s when I was a trustee of the National Gallery Stevenson was a trustee of the Tate and must have seen me arriving at one or other of those institutions on ...

It’s life but not as we know it

Tim Radford, 3 July 1997

... words, of life on Mars at one time, even if not now. When they made the announcement there were sharp intakes of breath in space science departments everywhere. (Altogether, 12 meteorites have been identified as bits of Mars, chipped loose in a bygone catastrophe – a collision with something big, like an asteroid or comet – which had spun around the ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out, 8 June 1995

... was like splitting the atom – it had done something to the sky, to our perception of time. Sharp-edged shadows were printed into the asphalt. This special quality of the light teased phallic clusters of lenses; engorged telephotos could be displayed without embarrassment. The merely curious, the event junkies who read this day as a living ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... by Peter Townsend, in 1953. It is 15 years since she died, and memories of her are not as sharp as they were. Which makes Craig Brown’s enterprise not only a marvellous freak of literature but a matchless summoner of our yesterdays. It is a collage, montage or bricolage of glittery bits culled from two hundred biographies, authorised and ...

You bet your life

Margaret Walters, 21 April 1988

Oscar and Lucinda 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 512 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 571 14812 3
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The Fifth Child 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 131 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 224 02553 8
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Eight Months on Ghazzah Street 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 299 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 670 82117 9
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... distrust her and resent her constant visits. She complains bitterly to her mentor, the Reverend Dennis Hasset, about the power of men; when he understandably looks puzzled – he’s quite unable to cope with her energy, and her innocent defiance of convention helps to ruin him – she explains impatiently that it’s the power ‘of men, men in a ...

Rebellion

C.K. Stead, 7 May 1981

I passed this way 
by Sylvia Ashton-Warner.
Virago, 499 pp., £12, October 1980, 0 86068 160 2
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Spinster 
by Sylvia Ashton-Warner.
Virago, 269 pp., £2.95, October 1980, 0 86068 161 0
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Teacher 
by Sylvia Ashton-Warner.
Virago, 224 pp., £2.95, October 1980, 0 86068 162 9
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... if this were true) should look in particular at her straight expository prose, which has the clean sharp efficiency of a first-rate mind. Teacher was completed about 1953 and for ten years Ashton-Warner tried unsuccessfully to have it published in New Zealand. Spinster was written in part to give fictional form to her account of how she had found ways of ...

Parodies

Barbara Everett, 7 May 1981

A Night in the Gazebo 
by Alan Brownjohn.
Secker, 64 pp., £3, November 1980, 0 436 07114 2
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Victorian Voices 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Oxford, 42 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 19 211937 0
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The Illusionists 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 138 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 436 16810 3
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... that makes them oddly available to the poet. In another monologue here, Thwaite makes George Dennis, Consul at Benghazi and a passionate antiquarian, open with words that form a splendidly resonant though decorous conceit for the poetic process itself: Rich bronzes, figured vases, jewellery – Fruits of my labours, subterranean joys: My men sit round a ...

America and Israel

Ian Gilmour, 18 February 1982

The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East 
by Mahmoud Riad.
Quartet, 365 pp., £11.95, October 1981, 0 7043 2297 8
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Palestinian Self-Determination 
by Hassan Bin Talal.
Quartet, 138 pp., £6.95, July 1981, 0 7043 2312 5
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This Year in Jerusalem 
by Kenneth Cragg.
Darton, Longman and Todd, 192 pp., £5.95, February 1982, 0 232 51524 7
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... and sensible speech on the Middle East – such as Governor John Connally in 1980 – is taught a sharp lesson. Jewish Americans make up only 2.7 per cent of the population of the United States, but partly because of their concentration in some pivotal states and mainly because of their influence on the American media and sections of American business, they ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... There are some nice bits of furniture but the atmosphere (well-heeled retired couples, women in sharp little Robin Hood hats, men in Barbours) puts me off, and having driven fifty miles to get there, I spend ten minutes looking round, then beat a quick retreat. I drive back over upper Wharfedale to Kettlewell on a road that used to be deserted and scarcely ...

Mailer’s Psychopath

Christopher Ricks, 6 March 1980

The Executioner’s Song 
by Norman Mailer.
Hutchinson, 1056 pp., £8.85, November 1979, 0 09 139540 2
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... But then the whole book is astonishingly free from scorn or condescension; even the preposterous Dennis Boaz (writer, lawyer, hippy, changer of his own mind but of no one else’s) is acknowledged for his intrepidity and for the directness of his speech on behalf of Gilmore’s wishes. A great many intelligent and sensitive things are said about respect in ...

Brown v. Salmond

Colin Kidd: The Scottish Elections, 26 April 2007

... the Conservatives (on 24 per cent) into third place north of the border. Moreover, despite the sharp partisan rivalries between Labour and the SNP, the left in Scotland began to appropriate elements of the nationalist case. While old-timers remained thirled to the idea that nationalism was a bourgeois deviation, younger radicals concluded that although it ...

Other People’s Capital

John Lanchester: Conrad and Barbara Black, 14 December 2006

Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge 
by Tom Bower.
Harper, 436 pp., £20, November 2006, 0 00 723234 9
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... lot of people money and brought about one of those fits of financial probity which always follow a sharp downturn. The bust of 1987 led to the conviction of, most notoriously, Michael Milken; the bust of 2000 led to that of Jeffrey Skilling at Enron, Bernie Ebbers at WorldCom, Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco; and has also led to ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... scrupulous producer, admired by his fellow technicians. His dialogue in particular was polished, sharp, ironic and splendidly actable. Terence Tiller called it a ‘constant wonder and joy ... The short crisp lines, visually vivid, heavy-charged with over-tones and yet never out of character, would ride the voice like birds – and penetrate the listener’s ...

The Nominee

Andrew O’Hagan: With the Democrats, 19 August 2004

... injustices of Wal-Mart. The speakers mentioned Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Gloria Steinem, The Beatles. Dennis Kucinich, a small, birdlike man with strong views and sharp claws, the only candidate for the nomination who had voted against the war and the Patriot Act, knew how to rouse a Boston audience. ‘We didn’t flee an ...

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